Wednesday, September 14, 2005

the new pornographers - twin cinema [album review]

[Matador, 2005]

The New Pornographers play power pop. They’ve been doing it for a while, now – this is their third full length, so it’s interesting that they haven’t become stagnant by now. In fact, Twin Cinema proves quite the contrary – this is their most relevant, enthusiastic and best album so far.

Before you accuse them of catching onto the whole disheveled geek-chic thing (think Weezer), let me fill you in. These guys are actually that geeky. Vice magazine called them “blindingly white”. You should see their lead singer (well, one of them) A.C. Newman – he’s pretty much the most ginger man in indie rock (ever). But boy does he know how to write a pop song.

They’re a solid band, and Twin Cinema is definitely a solid album. But that’s not to say that they’re too safe or boring. In fact, being so unabashedly focused on crafting songs and less on whatever is cool with hipsters this week pays off – no surprises there, then. Furthermore, it’s no surprise that this record is their best yet – I guess a truly talented group of songwriters and musicians just speaks for itself.

To the uninitiated, Twin Cinema may seem a little, well, boring. It’s not that this album isn’t inventive. It’s certainly not experimental or pushing boundaries by any means. It’s not terribly groundbreaking when a band continues to take on the same song structures that have existed in pop form for over fifty years now, even if done well. In that sense, you’d think there would be more perfect pop albums out there. Why aren’t there more Pet Sounds in the 21st century? For how easy making solid indie pop like this is made out to be, you’d expect more near-perfect albums post-2000. The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow had similar aims (though it is more retrospective-sounding, it’s a useful point of comparison here), but it’s hard to think of indie pop albums from the past five years have accessibility, longevity for the entirety of their duration. Twin Cinema is one of these records, and should be cherished accordingly. Sometimes you’ll be in the mood for this type of indie pop, whereas at other moments you may prefer something more interesting or experimental. But with an album this strong and self-assured, you can guarantee even on the first listen that you’re going to keep coming back for more.

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